Bogmail - Patrick McGinley

Genre: Irish Culture/Crime/Comedic/Mystery
Synopsis: In a comic Irish mystery worthy of Kingsley Amis or Peter Ustinov, Roarty, a pub owner, kills his teenage daughter's lover, drops the body into a bog, and returns to his pub, only to find he is the object of blackmailer's attentions.


Review: This book started off absolutely fantastically, and for a solid third of it I was convinced it was going to rack up five stars. It's darkly funny and beautifully written. The description of rural Irish landscapes found here I can only compare with the likes of Seamus Heaney - the first man to make me think of a bog as something that could be, if not beautiful, then something to be appreciated. I really liked Roarty - even though he is a murderer and I don't agree with him, his logic is darkly amusing and does not make him an unlikeable character. I liked many of the other characters too, as well as the insight provided into rural Irish life.

My biggest issue with this novel was that the focus seemed to shift almost indiscernably from being about Roarty, to being about his prime suspect, an Englishman spending a few months living in the area and attempting to integrate with the tightly knit local community. Potter's story revolved a lot more around a past relationship by comparison with a relationship he strikes up in the community, and comparing life in England with Ireland. Basically it bore no relation to the other main plot about a guy being blackmailed for murder. In the end, the blackmailing was only a minor feature with a very unsatisfying resolution.

Had this novel focus much more heavily on the actual bogmailer and Roarty, I think it could have been fantastic. As it was, it felt disjointed. That said, the writing was articulate, intelligent and often beautiful, so I haven't been put off trying another by McGinley.

Rating: 3/5

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